1. Product bundling

Bundling products together and incentivising someone to buy a product they hadn’t intended to – is a common tactic.

Amazon’s online store does this well, prompting users buying a book by one author to consider buying two or three, based on what other customers have bought previously.

Big brand retailers don’t always get this right…

Buying razors on Boots’ online store doesn’t clearly prompt you to consider buying the extra (and margin-heavy) replacement blades too.

2. Replicative deals

Similar to the BOGOF (buy one get one free) or three for two deals you’ll find in a bricks and mortar store, the same pricing structure can be applied online.

Don’t get hung up on giving stock away for free, if that’s a component of the deal… After all, three products at £20 provides a higher cash inflow than one product at £10.

Margins don’t have to be sacrificed either – consider using this trick on surplus or clearance stock, ask suppliers for margin share on products to be sold in this way (they will understand the power of volume too), or seize the opportunity to bring product items to your inventory that you wouldn’t otherwise sell individually. 

3. Delivery price nudge

Simply, ensure that your average basket value is just under the threshold for free delivery, encouraging additional purchases. Molton Brown does this exceptionally well, without upsetting the customer experience.

Each of its hand washes are sold at £16. Free delivery kicks in when you spend £49 or more – so buying three hand washes means you’ll end up paying £4.95 for delivery.

Psychologically, this, more often than not, triggers the shopper to buy a fourth, seeing the additional £16 (with free delivery) as actually being subsidised (by you) by a fiver.

4. One more item

Back in the early 2000’s, Sainsbury’s had a problem – basket value. People weren’t spending enough. The board, its trusted brand agency (Lambie Nairn, at the time led by industry legend Nick Hough), decided that the challenge at hand was simply encouraging customers to add one extra item to every shop.

Hence, the strap line (and wider strategy) “Try something new today” was born. This can be applied to your online store also. From peer recommendations to editorial-style “pick of the day”, try suggesting an additional product to customers immediately prior to the checkout stage.

These can be products you know the customer is likely to want (using shopper, category or social data) or an entirely new and unrelated product – again, used to learn more about that shopper and his / her tastes.

5. Social advocacy

An obvious one, but peer reviews and recommendations are gold dust. So, ask yourself, are they at the heart of your store? If they’re not, they should be. We’ve all seen the study that showed 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family.

But the same study also showed that 80% of online shoppers had been influenced to buy something by reading a positive review from a  real person. Bring reviews up front and centre.

Trip Advisor is perhaps the ultimate model here, combining official and user submitted content such as reviews, pricing information, photos and product specifics. The site made $763m last year from bookings originating on its site. Not bad…

6. Product variant demonstration

If your product is one that has creative parameters, such as allowing your customer to select finishes, designs or colours – try showing them what their configuration could look like applied to other products.

If you sell sofas, for example, an easy up-sell would be applying the customer’s chosen fabric / finishes to matching or contrasting cushions.

If t-shirts are your thing, what does the customer’s design look like on a different colour t-shirt? Or a hoodie? They may swap a lower priced item for a better, higher quality one. Or they may buy both.

7. Complete the set 

Experts in this space, like ASOS, are well versed in this tactic. Buying shorts, a t-shirt and shoes from one ‘look’ allows you to recommend additional items to a customer.

In this situation, suggesting a belt, sunglasses or a hat that matches the items already added to the basket, works well. ‘Completing the set’ can be applied to almost anything… Items that directly combine to make a set is one option.

Curated items that come together to make a complementary set is another. This requires a bit of editorial skill, crafting a ‘vision’ for each product and how they interact with others. But it can then be automated with smart tagging and careful product detail / description attribution. 

8. Smart follow up 

One of the easiest ways to engage with a customer is post-purchase. Reaching out to say thanks for an order can be more than just a process-driven facilitation.

Try any of the above tips at this stage and engineer your order process to allow edition of already placed orders.

Following up after an order has been placed to allow your customer to add to their order up until the point it is despatched is something few companies do. Or reminding a customer that they’ve just paid £4.95 for delivery but could get free delivery if they spend £X more is a nice touch too.

Finally, it’s a very good time to offer a discount on the next purchase as a way of saying thank you to first time or previously-lapsed customers.

In summary

Asking customers to spend more with your brand is not hard if you play the game (fairly) too. By giving more than your competitor in terms of service, relevance and attention, you may not have to play as competitive a pricing game, sacrifice margin or spend as much time on retention.

After all, people simply want to be treated as people… Online businesses that replicate that offline spirit reap the rewards.